Wear and Osteolysis of Highly Crosslinked Polyethylene at 10 to 14 Years: The Effect of Femoral Head Size

Paul F Lachiewicz, Elizabeth S Soileau, John M Martell
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 2016, 474 (2): 365-71

BACKGROUND: Highly crosslinked polyethylene (XLPE) was introduced to decrease periprosthetic osteolysis related to polyethylene wear, a major reason for revision of total hip arthroplasty. However, there are few reports of wear and osteolysis at 10 years postoperatively.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: (1) What are the linear and volumetric wear rates of XLPE at 10 to 14 years? (2) What is the relationship among linear wear, volumetric wear, and femoral head size? (3) What proportion of hips developed osteolysis and was there a relationship between osteolysis and femoral head size or polyethylene wear?

METHODS: We evaluated a previously reported cohort of 84 hips (72 patients) with one design of an uncemented acetabular component and one electron beam 10-kGy irradiated and remelted XLPE at a mean followup of 11 years (range, 10-14 years). The choice of femoral head size was based on several factors, including the outer diameter size of the acetabular component implanted, the perceived risk of dislocation (including the history of alcohol abuse and patient age), and liner availability from the manufacturer. The femoral head sizes used were 26 mm in 10 hips (12%), 28 mm in 31 hips (37%), 32 mm in 31 hips (37%), 36 mm in eight hips (10%), and 40 mm in four hips (5%). Measurements of linear and volumetric wear were performed in one experienced laboratory by the Martell method and analyzed using the first-to-last method. Standard radiographs, with additional Judet views, were used to detect periprosthetic osteolysis. Statistical analysis of wear and osteolysis compared with head size was performed.

RESULTS: For the entire cohort, the median linear wear rate as 0.024 mm/year (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.016-0.030) and the median volumetric wear rate was 12.19 mm(3)/year (95% CI, 6.6-15.7). With the numbers available, we found no association between femoral head size and linear wear rate. However, larger femoral heads were associated with more volumetric wear; 36/40-mm femoral heads had higher volumetric wear (median 26.1; 95% CI, 11.3-47.1) than did 26-mm heads (median 3.1; 95% CI, 0.7-12.3), 28-mm heads (median 12.3; 95% CI, 3.0-19.3), and 32-mm heads (median 12.9; 95% CI, 6.6-16.8; p = 0.02). Small osteolytic lesions were noted in 12 hips (14%), but with the numbers available, there was no association with head size or volumetric wear rates.

CONCLUSIONS: This uncemented acetabular component and this particular XLPE had low rates of linear and volumetric wear. Small osteolytic lesions were noted at 10 to 14 years but were not related to femoral head size or linear or volumetric wear rates. We recommend additional longer-term clinical followup studies and perhaps alternative imaging studies of patients with XLPE and osteolysis.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, therapeutic study.

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